I recently interviewed Jeanie Clarke, ex-wife of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, and former WCW talent known as 'Lady Blossom.' In part one of the interview below, Clarke talks about getting her start in pro wrestling, working with ex-boyfriend Chris Adams in World Class Championship Wrestling, signing with WCW, working with Steve Austin and more.
Make sure to check back next week for part two of the interview, where Jeanie talks about coming up with the name "Stone Cold," battling addictions, hitting rock bottom, getting clean, Prince and Chyna passing away and more.
You can also purchase her new book, Through the Shattered Glass, at this link.
* * *
How did you get your start in pro wrestling?
"I did put this in my book, by a chance, a fluke, I went to a wrestling show with a friend of mine when I was 19 and I met Chris Adams. He hadn't been wrestling that long himself and it wasn't long after that he asked me to be his valet. I actually toured the UK, a company called Joint Promotions. I don't know if many people in the U.S can go back that far, late 70's. Guys like Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Marty Jones, Mark Rollerball. I toured the roads with Tom Billington and Davey Boy Smith. We were all 19. I actually got my start in England. I toured the country for a couple of years before Chris and I came to the States together in 1981. Chris met a guy named Fuji that had a martial arts background, same as Chris, who was a judo guy. Judo Gene Lebell I believe, they ran a promotion out of Los Angeles. Because they were judo guys, they gave Chris a chance to work in LA."
A lot of people think you started with World Class.
"Oh no. I put it all in my book, the stories about the English promotions. It's called a second in England, not a valet, because they had the boxing rules with rounds. They had a whole different style of working back then. That's when I met Chris. Most people think I started in World Class, but we had split and came back together as friends there, not romantically."
When you moved to the U.S. Were you looking to further your wrestling career?
"Not at all. When Chris and I landed, we were ecstatic. The beach, I'm 19, he's 24 and we're like 'wow.' He only had one show on Friday for $40, and the money that we had saved kind of dwindled. We sat on the beach one night with a bag of monkey nuts and took showers on the beach. I didn't have a green card, and I saw these ads for models. I managed to get a bit of cash on hand doing modeling, and another job I saw on Santa Monica pier enabled us to stay in the states. I don't think we could have afforded it. We didn't have a car and we stayed in a hotel where a lot of the boys stayed. On $40 a week, we'd obviously have to come home. Chris went to Mexico. We struggled really bad. We were just really young and didn't think anything of sleeping on the beach at that age."
When you were asked to go to World Class and work with Chris, were you hesitant at all?
"Chris and I had split up and I write about it in the book about why we split up. I ended up marrying Billy Jack Haynes. Chris went to World Class, I went to England for six months, and Billy went to Florida. Chris and I had a daughter, Jade, so we stayed fairly amicable. Chris had this idea and phoned me in Florida and said he had this wrestler, Gino Hernandez, and wanted to do an ex-wife angle, which was a bit of a take on Jimmy Garvin and Precious and Sunshine. I think Chris seeing this in a bit of a reality, there was the idea to bring his wife Toni in. Gino was the one he wanted to do with it. I was still in Florida, but Chris helped me come to Dallas and got me an apartment there. Unfortunately, Gino died like three months after that. I had my own business in Dallas, and Chris phoned me up and goes 'I got this student Steve Williams, I think he might have potential and I want to try this ex-wife angle.' Steve had just started in 1989. We'd work together doing that angle, which was Chris' idea."
It was a memorable angle. From World Class to WCW, you had quite the impact in a short amount of time.
"I wasn't really on air for that long. Steve and I were good friends when we did the angle, then he went off to Nashville and we did a few spot shows, then started dating. It was kind of a fluke again that I took a call from Magnum for Steve at my house. They'd hired a girl named Veronica, but I didn't see her or know her work. They asked me to see Dusty in Houston. Steve and I were dating so it was handy for us to be together. I sold my business and moved to Atlanta."
Dusty [Rhodes] is the one who came up with the name Lady Blossom, right?
"I hate it to this day. I just wish I had something else planned. I said to Steve 'I don't like my name,' and he said 'I don't like it either,' but Dusty said that's what it's going to be."
You were pretty actively involved at ringside when you were managing. Did you ever suffer any injuries?
"They did have me taking bumps in WCW, but I actually got more injuries in World Class. Two bad injuries. Steve actually came down on me from the top rope and I couldn't walk for about six weeks. One time Chris told me to pick up the bell ringer, which is like an iron bar. Chris showed me how to hit it, but as I moved the bar it broke a bone in my hand. I didn't actually get any injuries in WCW, I was lucky I guess, because I didn't know how to work."
You were there for a short time before getting pregnant. How would you describe your time in WCW?
"I could say that my time in World Class was a lot of fun. We didn't really have as much behind-the-scenes politics. We had Jerry Jarrett there, but it was much more professional (in WCW) and I was ecstatic to be there, but it wasn't as fun as World Class. But I was honored to be there."
Did you ever want to go back to WCW?
"I wrote about it a bit in my book, but I had a bit of a tough childhood. I was put into sort of a home at a young age, my father died, and I never really had much of a family. Even when Chris and I came to the States we were on the move – Mexico, Portland, Florida. After I had my second child, Steve and I looked for houses. A beautiful log home, and for me it was awesome, because it was something I'd looked for all my life in a proper family. I had two daughters. What I wanted then was to be happily married and a good mom to my two daughters at the time. Going back on the road would not have been good as a mom. Steve was working, doing great, before he became Stone Cold. When he was working in Atlanta he was home a lot because they had the Center Stage tapings and we lived just outside. We did so much fun stuff with the kids. I was absolutely happy with Steve in Atlanta, to the point where I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I enjoyed decorating. Some of the best years of my life."
Make sure to check back next week for part two of the interview, where Jeanie talks about coming up with the name "Stone Cold," battling addictions, hitting rock bottom, getting clean, Prince and Chyna passing away and more. You can also purchase her new book, Through the Shattered Glass, at this link. You can check out a synopsis for the book below:
Jeanie's book covers her entire life story, from her tough early life, to her breakout mainstream celebrity as a member of Joint Promotions (the national promotion of the UK scene in the 1970s and '80s), where she managed the career of her then-boyfriend Chris Adams.
Her autobiography follows her relocation to the United States, where Jeanie became a mother. It reveals details of her modelling career and the end of her relationship with Chris, leading to the unique circumstances which led to her first marriage with Billy Jack Haynes.
Thereafter, Jeanie became a business entrepreneur, before being offered the role of a manager to an unknown rookie named 'Stunning' Steve Austin.
Their friendship bloomed into a romance, and they were married. However, with fame came the temptations of a touring performer, which slowly tore apart their family. Everyone knows the story of how the name 'Stone Cold' came to be, however, this account reveals, for the first time, the truth behind the Austin 3:16 brand. It analyses the painful torment on both sides as their marriage dissolved.
The story culminates in her private war with addiction, a problem that claimed the lives of so many of her friends and colleagues within the wrestling and mainstream entertainment industries. It is an inspirational battle of which Jeanie still faces the consequences.
She now hopes to share her battle to help others facing the same horror.
Tragically, her powerful story has been made more relevant in light of recent events.
Her autobiography, Through the Shattered Glass, [is] available worldwide on Amazon, Kindle and several major outlets. Similarly, personalized and autographed copies are available for purchase at the same retail price of $24.99 (£16.99 UK) through orders made directly by emailing [email protected].